The Sea of Trees

The Sea of Trees ★★★


Obliterated upon its initial premiere at Cannes, Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees is more of a Late-Shyamalan textural exercise or a perpetual response, in tone and theme, to Christopher Nolan's Interstellar than typical art-house fare. The story is as mawkish as it is elegant, pummeling the viewer with inane but preposterously moving conversations, monologues, and flashbacks, all of which feed Van Sant's soothing display of naturalism. Sunlight shines in between the tree branches, but it is the bodies, bloodied and weak, suicidal and lost, and souls who are the focus. All of it is bizarre and misguided, with story right out of Neil Breen's oeuvre, but it is never boring and continuously heartfelt in between the spurts of eye-rolls. Competently performed (Mcconaughey is a bona-fide star, rising above material and showcasing utter commitment), shot, edited, and scored, Van Sant's film is far from a disaster as a whole, but its disastrous elements collide with genuine, candid sentimentality. An oddity which will undoubtedly gain a cult following for all the wrong reasons.

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